Fireworks have begun popping and grills are firing up for Independence Day celebrations. So, AAA Oklahoma is urging caution to prevent unintended dangers of Fourth of July celebrations that lead to injury of party-goers, property damage and significant liability for homeowners and hosts.

“When precautions are taken to make Fourth of July fireworks and cookouts accident- and damage-free, everyone can relax.” said Russ Iden, vice president AAA Insurance, Great Plains Region.

BARBECUE GRILLING SAFETY

According to the National Fire Protection Association, June and July are the peak months for summer grill fires, with nearly 9,000 fires caused by grills, hibachis and other barbecues each year, accounting for $37 million in property loss in the United States.

“Grilling season is a great time to enjoy friends, family, food and the outdoors, but accidents can happen,” said AAA's Iden. “Before you barbecue, take a few minutes to review grilling safety tips and to ensure your equipment is working properly.”

Safe barbecuing tips

Place your grill at least 10 feet away from roofs, awnings, walls and deck railings to prevent fires from igniting buildings. Keep your grill away from decorations, such as hanging plants and umbrellas.

Never grill indoors or in confined areas; charcoal grills produce carbon monoxide fumes that are fatal in unventilated areas.

Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, and know how to use it.

Never leave a grill burning unattended.

Grease can cause flare up fires. Keep your grill clean by removing grease and fat build-up from the grill and grill trays.

If the flame on your propane grill goes out, turn the grill and gas off. Wait at least 15 minutes before relighting, and always make sure your grill lid is open before igniting.

FIREWORKS DANGER, IMPACT AND SAFETY

Many Oklahomans enjoy celebrating the Fourth with their own fireworks displays, but these products, while legal in many places, are extremely dangerous and cause plenty of damage and injuries every year.

More fires are reported in the United States on the Fourth of July than on any other day, and fireworks account for more than half of those blazes, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Fireworks cause an estimated 18,500 reported fires annually in the United States

Fireworks result in an estimated $43 million in direct property damage in America each year

U.S. hospital emergency rooms treat an estimated 11,900 people for fireworks related injuries each year

51 percent of those injuries were to the extremities

41 percent of those injuries were to the head

People ages 25-44 (34 percent) account for the largest percentage of fireworks injuries, followed by children ages 5-9 (15 percent)

Sparklers, which burn at a searing 1,200°F, account for roughly 25 percent of emergency room fireworks injuries

Fireworks Safety Tips

AAA Oklahoma provides these guidelines to limit risks when using fireworks:

Always purchase high quality fireworks from reliable and legitimate sources

Always read and follow label directions

Have an adult supervise all fireworks activities

Always ignite fireworks outdoors

Have water nearby

Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks

Light only one firework at a time

Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks

Never give fireworks to small children

Store fireworks in a cool, dry place

Dispose of fireworks properly

Never throw fireworks at another person

Never carry fireworks in your pocket

Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers

 “AAA wants everyone to safely celebrate the red, white and blue, without injuries or damage to their property,” Iden added. “It’s always a good idea to consult your insurance agent to be sure about what your homeowners or renters policy covers and does not cover in terms of liability with party gatherings and potential damage related to grilling or fireworks accidents.”